Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences

Mysteries of the human brain to be uncovered

Sep 2019: Prof Seth Grant has been awarded funding to map the human brain in unprecedented detail, potentially revealing new insights into the foundations of behaviour and brain disease.

Prof Grant and his team have been awarded a £1.3M grant from the Wellcome Trust to map the trillions of synapses in the human brain. The elaborate map will show how these vital connections are organised throughout the brain and in its different regions.

If successful, the project will deepen the fundamental understanding of brain structure and function and shed light on different brain diseases and behavioural conditions.

Molecular imaging

The new project builds upon their previous work creating another such map – called a synaptome – for the mouse brain.

They used cutting-edge techniques, such as molecular imaging and artificial intelligence, to look at synapses across the whole of the mouse brain.

The study showed that mice bred to mirror aspects of autism and schizophrenia had different synaptome maps and did not recall information properly.

The map suggested that the diversity of synapse types may be key to storing and recalling information, helping the brain to quickly locate memories through patterns of activity.

Unravelling the immense complexity of the human brain is one of the great scientific challenges. We will chart the molecular architecture of the human brain and our maps will help explain the basis of our thoughts and actions in healthy people and those with brain disorders.

Professor Seth GrantUniversity of Edinburgh's Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences

Related links

Synaptic biology & disease research at the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences

Prof Seth Grant's profile